Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New Stuff

My road bike rides kind of harsh. To be expected, seeing that it's an aluminum frame. The carbon fork and stays do help, but it's still aluminum. The original seat was a was a butt abusing hunk of plastic, so I tried a Specialized touring seat, which was too soft. Next up, a Specialized BG Rival MTB seat. Better,but it didn't translate to the road well. Don't ask me why, because it's great on the MTB. After installing it on the MTB, I put the old BG Sport seat from the MTB on the road bike. No cigar. This game of musical seats had to stop. A little research on the various chats and review sites brought my choices down to a few. Luck would have it one of the finalists came up as a special on Blue Sky's e-mail flier. I've bought a few things from them and have always come through right on time. This seat, the Fi'zi:k Rondine Wing Flex Magnesium (that's quite a mouthful), is regularly $85.00. With a sale price of $29.98 + shipping, it looked like a steal.

It is a steal. I got home today and installed it post-haste. Now, the Ritchey Comp seat post has been nothing but a headache, always letting the seat tilt back at the first sight of a climb and some aft pressure. Not so with this saddle. Not a creak or any sign of the tilt-itis it had with the other ones. And that harshness I attributed to the aluminum frame? Much reduced. The flex wings seem to help eat up a lot of vibration. The padding seems just right for my bony butt. It came with a small clip in seat bag, but it's too little for my needs. This seat is a bit wider, so it fits me perfectly. I use a BG 143 width, and this is pretty close.

*This is not a paid endorsement for Fi'zi:k, but it could be if they would send me a check.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Deep Thoughts

Deep in the woods, that is. My weekend ride scouting ride took me into the thick state forest on ATV trail. Fun riding, especially on those sharp, burmed corners. You can crank into them full tilt and rail around with no brakes. Miles and miles of varied surface and width make for a great day on the MTB. But, that black cloud the cycling gods have seen fit to horse collar me with rained on my parade. Not with literal rain, but with flies. Those nasty, biting deer flies. Don't they know the difference between humans and deer? Maybe they should be called "we'll bite anything" flies. I had these nasty critters stuck on my arms, legs, in my helmet, everywhere. There is always bad with the good, and this was bad. But the riding was great!

I've read a lot of negative comments on the Versus coverage of the TDF. I actually don't mind the Phil and Paul running cliche commentary style, or Bobke's all around goofiness. It could be a lot worse. And a lot better. True HD picture would be a plus, but I'm sure the signal conversion from PAL to the US NTSC standard is the culprit, cost wise. The sound is pretty decent, and Vs does broadcast in 720. Maybe next year. One can only hope.

Ever wonder how the dopers get the idea to try the latest and greatest drugs? I have theories, such as research scientists noticing peculiar reactions to the last wonder drug meant to help the very ill. Hey, maybe I could make a buck on the side and black market this to some unscrupulous athlete or trainer. Or maybe he or she is a big sports fan and wants to "help out" some athlete or team. Money, I'm sure, is behind it, mostly. Why not spend more time tracking the source and enforcing existing laws in this country the way the French do. Wait, did just say "the way the French do"? Yes, stuffing Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens in a squad car after the game might help curb the flow, so to speak. Again, one can only hope.

Monday, July 28, 2008

TDF Final

My apologies, dear readers, for failing to file my usual, up to the minute reports on the last 2 stages of the TDF. I was out of town being eaten by deer flies and mosquitoes in my quest finding the best MTB trails near where our camper is parked. I rode some ATV trails that were da bomb, but the biting flies really took the joy out of things. I'll ride 'em again after fly season is over.

Back to the Tour: Carlos Sastre dug deep on the final time trial and sealed the victory over Cryin' Cadel Evans. The Aussie Weeper just didn't pull off the time trial he was looking for this time around. I've got a feeling he was worn to a frazzle after the constant beat down at the hands of CSC. Bjarne Riis put together a killer squad and worked his plan perfectly. The last stage into Paris was won in a sprint by Gert Steegman of Quickstep, who were floundering with out Tom Boonen, who's Tour was derailed in cloud of white powder. The latest doper to be flushed is Dmitri Fofonov from Credit Agricole. He got some blood pressure medication over the internet to help fight cramps was his excuse. Hmmm - I think the teams frown on anything the rider takes not pre-approved, especially a banned substance. What a dope(r).

All and all, a great Tour De France, though Sastre is not your most charismatic champion in recent years, but his team sure was! I think the Schleck boys will continue the trend in the future, and Evans might have one more run in him, but needs a stronger team to do it. And more Kleenex.

Friday, July 25, 2008

TDF Stage 19

Mad attack artist Sylvian Chavanel took today's fairly flat stage in a sprint over Jeremy Roy for a French 1-2 victory. Team Columbia's Gerald Ciolek took the field sprint for 3rd. I don't remember so many breaks that have actually worked as in this tour. Fun stuff. Tomorrow's time trial should be a nail chewing good time!!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

TDF Stage 18

Rack up another stage win for Team Columbia courtesy of Marcus Burghardt. Burghardt out sprinted fellow breakaway partner Carlos Barredo of Quickstep. Romain Feillu was once again in the mix, having a pretty aggressive tour for himself. Carlos Sastre remains in yellow, followed by Frank Schleck and Bernhard Kohl. Our boy Christian Vande Velde is still hanging around the top in 6th overall.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

TDF Stage 17

The CSC/Saxo Bank train continued to roll up the field on today's Alpe d'Huez hors category stage. Carlos Sastre took the win and the yellow jersey from team mate Frank Schleck, putting 1:24 into him. Schleck is now in second overall, followed by Kohl, Evans, and Menchov. Looks like the time trial will determine things in the end.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dibetes Update

After Saturday's Split Rock ride, I relaxed for and hour, showered and checked my blood sugar. 112. Not bad, as it's usually a lot higher after a hard effort. I tried to keep my carb intake up, and didn't feel any bonk symptoms at all. I ate 3 pieces of Bulldog supreme pizza and relaxed to watch the Tour De France stage on the DVR. I checked again a couple of hours later. 98. Cool, staying pretty stable. A nice dinner with about 25 carbs , a light snack and a great nights sleep resulted in a Sunday morning reading of 94. All Sunday everything stayed down about 10 counts lower than I've seen in a while. I did a 45 min. spin on the trainer to keep the legs loose, as they were getting pretty tight Sunday morning. It felt good to give 'em a good acid flush.

It seems the best thing for me personally to keep my blood glucose in control is intense exercise. The harder the better. Walking has never done anything for me, but a hammer session on the bike brings my numbers right down in short order. Cross country skiing has the same effect. I would guess power walking might work, but I would feel like complete dork doing it in public. But then, I do kit up in lycra....

TDF Stage 16

AG2R's Cyril Dessel took todays stage with 5 others including George Hincapie of Team Coulmia in 5th. Christian VandeVelde lost some time but still is 6th overall. Frank Schleck remains in yellow. 2 hors category climbs left the bunch looking haggard at the end. I don't know how they can recover so quickly after the beating the take day after day. Heat, cold, rain, wind all add up to a fatigue I can't imagine. Better racing through science, I guess....

Monday, July 21, 2008

TDF Rest Day 2

I'm really liking this years tour more than I thought I would. With out Bruyneel and the invisible Lance controlling things, the racing has been more unpredictable to say the least. The long breaks have been succeeding, the sprints have been chaotic, and the climbing brutal as ever. In other words, more fun.

CSC/Saxo Bank's team has as powerful cast of characters as ever assembled. Uber-hard men Jens Voigt, Stu O'Grady, and Fabian Cancellara handle their roles like no other riders, super domestique Nikki Sorenson is always reliable, Vol Gustav tows the Schleck brothers to the climbs, where Andy puts on the hurt, the Frank finishes up for the day. All they need is Mark Cavendish and it would be called "CSC/Saxo Bank's Tour De France".

My personal rest day was yesterday. Watched the tour in the morning with coffee, a little 45 minute spin on the trainer to loosen up the legs, a matinee movie with the family, then grilled turkey melts w/ bacon for dinner with the wife's brother and his boys. A great weekend.

Ride Food

After Saturday's Split Rock, I realized I had found the perfect ( for Me ) ride nutritional supplements. The 6:00 am breakfast was 1 large Kodiak Cakes flap jack. These are great!! Whole wheat flour and honey base pancake mix - just add water. I throw in a hand full of blue berries to make 'em extra good. Along with 2 scrambled eggs, I was ready to rock.

I started out with a large water bottle mixed with Hammer Heed. I've read that Hammer products are very suitable for diabetics, so I thought I was worth trying. The mild melon Heed was a nice change from the usual energy drinks. Smooth, non-acid tasting, didn't give me heartburn effect of the citrus flavored drinks. The Hammer gels are easy to stomach and also taste great, especially the apple-cinnamon flavor.

Adding in a few orange slices, a couple of fig bars, and more water at the feed stops worked perfectly for the 4 plus hours of pretty high intensity riding. I never felt any bonk symptoms even after several hard efforts. I backed off the Lantus insulin dosage a few units in the morning, didn't take the Byetta at all, as that seems to add to the acid reflux feeling if I work hard after eating. I think the mix of solid and liquid food sources is the way to go for, and smaller quantities more often leaves more blood flow for the legs instead of digestion. That's my new ride food plan.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Solo Group Ride

I was really looking forward to Saturday's VeloDuluth Split Rock Tour, I really was. I just thought I'd be riding with some familiar faces at a nice, relaxed pace. Well, I didn't see anyone I new, except Jeff C., Biking Duluth blogger. He was at the start, but couldn't ride due to family obligations. We all know how that goes, been there plenty of times my self. I figured I would hook up with a few people of my ability and enjoy the ride. Not to be today.

I left the Brighton Beach start and headed up the shore right behind a couple of obviously fast guys. Top end gear, equipment in order, well used, but maintained. Both were lean, Cat 3 looking character, out of my racing league types. About a hundred yards in, the touch wheels and one of them hits the pavement hard. Several of us stopped and checked if he was OK, then we headed up the shore in earnest. After a couple of miles, the 2 of them just took off and left me alone. The lake wind picked up, and my spirits dropped. I looked behind and no one was coming, no one ahead to catch up with, so the thought of a solo century entered my mind. Not what I had planned.

After about 10 miles, 2 more guys on aerobar equipped rigs blew past me in a hurry, mini team time trial style. A couple of mile latter, they were pulled off the road taking on some water looking fried. I pulled into the Knife River feed and consumed a couple of orange slices and a Hammer gel. Love that apple-cinnamon flavor. Topped of the water bottle, which started of filled with Hammer Heed, and headed up the road. The wind kicked it up a notch. Bad news for my century plan. My suitcase of courage was dragging behind lick a big, rock filled anchor. So I did my best Hors Category hardman Jens Voigt imitation ( a much fatter and slower version) and gutted it out through Two Harbors and stopped at the feed on the north side of town.

An orange, fig newton, and a bag of Jelly Belly Sport Beans latter, and off again. I headed a few miles north as so I could do 60 miles instead of the 100 I had thought about. The wind was just too much for a big target like me. Plus, my training log reflected my fitness isn't quite there yet. I could have meandered along and did it, but I was treating it as training and didn't want to just go up in smoke for nothing.

2 1/2 hours to do 31 miles is a poor effort to me, so I vowed to really kick it on the ride back. After the turn around, the wind was at my back, and I flew. The spirit of Fabian Cancellara touched my legs ( in a good way ) for many miles. Places where I was down to 10 mph and lower on the way up were now showing 25-30 on the way back. I stopped for water in Knife River and headed back. I saw a lot of people still on their way up when I was heading back, so I didn't feel too bad about my effort. I just wonder where every one was....

TDF Stage 15

Australian Simon Gerrans of Credit Agricolde ahead of Egoi Martinez and Gar-Chip's Danny Pate on today's climber oriented Sate 15. The CSC boys put the proverbial hammer down and drove Frank Schleck into the yellow jersey. Ultra hardman Jens Voigt and Nikki Sorenson drove the train to the base of the climb, Fabian Cancllera took over, the Andy Schleck attacked like crazy to pull big brother Frank 8 seconds ahead of Cadel Evans, who dropped back to 3rd overall. Bernhard Kohl rode hard to put himself in second position. Christian VandeVelde of Gar-Chip got a solid top 10 on the stage to stay within sight of the podium.

TDF Stage 14

Green jersey sporting Oscar Freire won Saturday's stage 14 in a sprint finish. The "Cat" slipped through to the line in yet another free-for-all, rather disorganized ending. It was nice to see Julian Dean up contesting for I think the first time in this tour. Also, some new names are coming to the fore, as well as old reliables, like Zabel, Evans, Freire. And the dopers still suck.

Friday, July 18, 2008

TDF Stage 13

I just don't know if this guy can be beaten. A 4th stage win for Mark Cavendish. He looked blocked in with about 400 meters to go, Zabel and McEwen looked set for the dual, then Cavendish lit 'em up. Try as I might, I can figure out where he hides the nitrous oxide tank. Tom Boonen had commented that the sprints aren't well set up by the teams this year, so maybe Cavendish is just a little more heads up than the rest. That used to be McEwen's forte. It is fun to watch a superstar on the rise!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

TDF Stage 12

Mark Cavendish took his third stage of the Tour today ahead of Sebastien Chavanel and Gert Steegmans. This guy has another gear compared to the rest this year, and could win another stage or two before it's over. The GC podium remains the same. Riccardo Ricco still sucks...

This Just In - Cheating At The Tour!

That sneaky little bastard. The supreme a-wipe, Riccardo Ricco, gets the boot for EPO. Imagine that. It's also a new, extended release version that is only needed twice a month instead of daily. Super cheating, as far as I'm concerned. It's not even approved for medical use yet! From reports this morning, the peloton is pissed and not riding a much of a pace. I think a blanket party would be in order for the mouthy, self- glossed Cobra. Hope he runs into a mongoose.

Head For The Hills

Yesterday after work, I figured I'd go for a nice spin up the shore. Maybe and hour or so, play it by ear. So, I kitted up and headed down the hill to Superior St and headed east. All of a sudden, somebody hit the A/C . Wait, my bike has Ritchie, Ultegra, FSA, American Classic, Kenda, but no air conditioning. Oh, yeah, that's Lake Superior at work. When it's 90f and muggy, it's a welcome relief, but when it's 70 and the lake drops it 15 degrees, no thanks. So what do you do? I headed on up Lester River Road. I've been staying away from climbing since my return to the sport, but today the burn felt good. So good in fact, I went all the way to the end and turn around for the swoosh back down. On the way up, I hit a max mph of 18, back down I reached 37. It felt so good, I turned around at the park and did another loop. I'll be doing the Velo Duluth ride this weekend, and feel pretty good about it. See you out there.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

TDF Stage 11

Another Norsky take a stage win. Kurt-Asle Arvesen of CSC-Saxo took the sprint over Martin Elminger and Alessandro Ballan. The main peloton was several minutes back, so the large break worked out for @ 12 guys. Evans stays in yellow for another day.
BTW-Why is Yoko Ono riding in the Gar-Chip car with Vaughters? Hmm....

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

TDF Rest Day 1

I need it, I'm shredded. Off the back. Poor form. Legs of stone. The God of Blunder needs some time away from the bunch. I haven't been on a bike of any type for over a week. Just can't shake the blahs...

Monday, July 14, 2008

TDF Stage 10

Saunier-Duval's Leonardo Piepoli took today's mountain stage, while Cadel Evans dons the yellow jersey at long last. I kind of hope he keeps it to the end. We shall see....

TDF Stage 8-9

I didn't get see much of the Tour this weekend due to more family stuff, but I caught the end of stages 8 & 9 thanks to the DVR. Mark Cavendish got his 2nd win on 8, and Riccardo Rico get his on 9. We'll see if Kirchen can keep the yellow now that the serious climbing is under way.

Friday, July 11, 2008

TDF Stage 7

Caisse d'Epargne's Luis Leon Sanchez took today's stage after catching, then dropping the last break of the day. The main contenders were a few seconds behind, lead by Stephan Schumaker. The GC is still lead by Team Columbia's Kim Kirchen, Cadel Evans, and Schumacher. Lot's of Tour to go, though, and fate usually plays a hand in the end. Johan Brunyeel isn't there for a change, so fate is running the show...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

TDF Stage 6

One of my least favorite a-clowns, Riccardo Ricco, took today's hill top finish ahead of Valverde, Evans, Schleck, and Kirchen. I think Ricco means "big head" in Italian. What a nozzle. Team Columbia must be going crazy at about this time, having gotten the yellow jersey after Schumaker crashed and lost a bunch of time. I didn't know the same time rule didn't apply to climb finishes the same way it does on the flat stages. The "clean " teams seem to be in good shape and are getting some great results. They seem to be in the breaks, sprints, and now Kim Kirchen has the yellow jersey. I think this is just what the doctor ordered ( no pun intended ), and also what the ASO needed to validate their anti-doping stance. Even the French are getting some quality performances. I wonder how these guys are going to hold up in the big mountains. I think Cadel Evans will start to shine when it gets nasty steep.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

TDF Stage 5

Mark Cavendish leads the sprinters in on today's stage 5. The usual cast of characters were left in his wake of his sprint on today's very long stage. The GC remains the same, and Gar-Chip and Team Columbia keep on keepin' on. When will we see Columbia cycling gear in the shops? Hmm...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

TDF Stage 4

Stefan Schumacher stamped on the pedals with authority to take the first time trial of the '08 TDF. Kim Kirchen of Team Columbia was 2nd, with David Millar of Garmin-Chipolte in 3rd. That's now the GC. Funny, 2 first time US registered teams on the podium. One burrito powered at that...

Monday, July 7, 2008

TDF Stage 3

Frenchman Samuel Dumoulin take stage 3 in a break away that actually suceeded! Fellow escapee Roman Feillu takes the yellow jersey. American William Frischkorn took second on the stage.

Group Ride Problem

Doug over at had commented that the Monday group ride and the sponsoring club has really dwindled in participation. With more and more people biking these days, you would think just the opposite would be happening. Here's some of my drivel on some of the possible reasons.
  • Could it be the other bike shops are selling a lot more bikes, thus people are more aware of the rides that they "sponsor"?
  • Not enough or ineffective promoting of the various rides.
  • Older riders have drifted away from the sport, and the newer riders are more interested in the MTB or urban scene than road riding. Newer riders may also be intimidated by group dynamics of riding in a bunch.
  • The watering down of the group rides. Every night of the work week seems to have several options, thus without a bigger base of cyclist to draw from, less people per ride.
  • The fear of not being able to keep up, though many rides are advertised as "no drop"

I'm sure there is more, but this is what came to mind. For me, it seems SWMBO always has found something more important for us, so I end up riding alone a lot and am hit and miss on the group rides. Any thoughts out there?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sunday Fun

I rode down the hill this morning to take in the Duluth Duathlon. It's a run-bike-run format, with the run being a trail run, the bike leg is on the road, but hilly compared to the normal flatter time trial you see in most triathlons. The course ran out of Lester Park, right down the hill from my house. I've run these roads and trails many times, but never put 2 and 2 together to think of a duathlon. A perfect location, a perfect day weather wise made for a nice event.

Dopey me left the camera with my wife at the camper Friday, so I only had my cell phone camera for pictures. Hope you don't mind. Jim over at Unholy Rouleur would probably get a kick out of the dismounts into the transition from bike to runs. Road cleats on pavement make for some slip-sliding near crashes. The top riders really cooked in and I caught one headed for me as he hit the barrier. maybe they should take some 'cross lessons...

Me, I got in some MTB riding and did some hill repeats on the road bike. I got in about 9 hours of saddle time since Thursday. Not enough, but some group rides this week should help in my Velo Duluth century on July 19th. Now, back to the TDF stage 2 and a cold Stella Artois. Ahhhh.

TDF Day 2

Big Thor Hushovd, tongue wagging, take stage 2 of the Tour. I'm really amazed his bike holds up to all that torque he generates with those tree trunk legs. Fabain Cancellara gave it a go late, but was pulled back in and Thor let it rip for a nice win. Alejandro Valverde kept the yellow. I think this is going to be one hell of a good Tour!
Whoops - I forgot to say "God of Thunder".

Saturday, July 5, 2008

This Just In

One of my boys, Alejandro Valverde, take the opening stage of the TDF. Looks like his jersey will now match his bike. All that yellow was a contrast to his black w/ red kit, so he needed that yellow jersey to make things right!

Family Fun On The Fourth!!

Ah, another Saturday wasted at my place of gainful employment. This one came a week earlier, as I switched with one of my cohorts so I could have next weekend off to celebrate my brother in-laws retirement. He has retired from the navy after many years in Italy, and has divorced and moved back here with his 2 sons. They seem to be adapting well to the US of A very well. I'm mildly disappointed though, because being Italian, they should know something about bikes. Alas, they prefer soccer and basketball. I'll be working on that, rest assured.

While the clan packed into my mini-van to go to the Fourth of July parade in Moose lake, I opted to ride my bike. I left about 10 minutes earlier than they did, and arrived before they did. Seems they had to park a ways away and walk to the parade route. They had seen me on the Munger Trail from the road about half way there, but I still arrived at the actual parade before them. The weather was perfect and the small town parade was kinda cool. Old cars, trucks, tractors. candy for the kids, floats featuring the local queens of this and that.

On the ride back, I took a couple of side roads and checked out some new two track roads through the woods and farm fields in the area. A couple of crashes, mud holes and stream crossing later, I looked the part of the hard core XC rider you see in the magazines. No damage to either body or bike, so it was all good. An after lunch 2 hour spin on the road bike made for 4 hours in the saddle for the day. I got in an hour and a half on the MTB Thurday evening, so my time spent riding is building back up. Better late than never, but the knee slowed me down in the earlier part of the year. The Velo Duluth century is coming up in 2 weeks, so I need to bank some longer rides soon....

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Tour De France time is upon us. From what I've seen of the new route, I think my guy is going to have some major impact on the race. Fabian Cancellara is the rider I would most like to emulate. A powerful, smooth, race winning machine who can dominate almost any type of contest. Time trial ? No one better. Spring classics? He's always on form. No matter the terrain, Fabian can dish it out. It's no longer a surprise when he puts the hammer down and pulls away to victory. And he does it with a smile, even when it's a team mate getting the victory. The sport needs more like him, especially with the shadow of doping looming large, Cancellara's name never comes up, knock on wood.

Another challenger I like is Alejandro Valverde. The Spaniard is a good all-arounder who can climb as well as pull off the long break aways and win classics. Cadel Evans needs to show a little more killer instinct this year to take the crown, which has no owner, since the Astana boys aren't being allowed to play. Too bad, since they were major powers in most races they were in. Dopers suck, and until they can prove they have cleaned up their act to the ASO, it's NO SOUP FOR YOU!!

Me, I've got the DVR set to catch all the action daily. I just wish it was available in high definition. The technology is there, so what's the problem? Versus shares it's HD channel with the golf channel, so they have the ability. Maybe it's a money thing. I'm sure once the HD standard is in full force next year, we'll be able to revel in the TDF in full HD glory. I can't wait!!!